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No more pies, popcorn or porn?

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

What should be done with the 100 Block of State?

Leave it alone
7
35%
Add a little powder and paint to the exteriors
7
35%
Plow it under and make it a plaza
3
15%
Make a Wintergarder
3
15%
 
Total votes : 20

No more pies, popcorn or porn?

Postby bassbari » Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:34 am

From the Cap Times last night.

Madison developer Marty Rifken has bought a third property on the historic 100 block of State Street.
Records show his Central Focus LLC bought the three-story building, estimated at more than 100 years old, for $1.9 million, more than twice its assessed value of $825,000, in September. The building, located at 121 State St., houses the eyewear shop Eye Contact on the street level.

The block, with several buildings put up before 1900, is significant real estate because it is across the street from the new Overture Center, which opened in September.

The glass-walled lobbies and promenades of Overture Hall look out on the backs of old brick buildings. Critics have despaired at this, and some have even suggested the triangular block be razed and converted to a Lincoln Center-like public plaza that would allow direct views of the Overture Center from the Capitol and vice versa.


Have the critics from across the street won? I, for one, don't like the view, but I would rather see it fixed not flattened into an open space. There was talk one time of a wintergarden. I could live with that. But it looks like those great old buildings are living on borrowed time, if Rifken has his way. The other owners will be forced to sell.
Here is the whole article.

http://www.madison.com/archives/read.ph ... 6549:METRO

BTW, I misspelled Wintergarden in the survey. How do you fix that? It won't let me do it through edit.
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Postby bassbari » Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:42 am

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Postby Paco » Fri Dec 10, 2004 1:15 pm

if i recall he paid double the assessed value. No way in hell it's going to be an open space.
2 words. Luxury Condos. or maybe Upscale Condos. take your pick.
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Postby bassbari » Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:15 pm

Sort of like a mirror image of the one on East Mifflin and N Hamilton?
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Postby pulseCzar » Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:33 pm

Haven't we already cleared enough out of the way just to build Overture? These "critics" can just plant some ivy to grow up the backs of those buildings and shut up. You paid the big bucks to watch the "Bitchin' Babes" not to look out the window.
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Postby shelly » Fri Dec 10, 2004 2:41 pm

pulseCzar wrote:Haven't we already cleared enough out of the way just to build Overture? These "critics" can just plant some ivy to grow up the backs of those buildings and shut up. You paid the big bucks to watch the "Bitchin' Babes" not to look out the window.


Amen to that!

But it will probably be upscale, luxury condos. and a coffeeshop.
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Postby wpatterson » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:38 am

These continued purchases for much more than the assessed value in the 100 block of State Street are somewhat alarming. Most people think that Marty Rifken doesn't have the money to do this on his own, so he must be working with other investors or fronting for a person or a group.

Another alarming thing is the number of times people have been quoted in the press about wishing that the ugly old buildings across from the Overture Center would go away. Even the Isthmus seems to have jumped on this bandwagon with comments by the writer of a recent article.

It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could think that they could level the 100 block of State Street and put up anything in its place. The developer would outrage anyone interested in historic presevation and destroy any goodwill they might have established with the community.

Unfortunately, there is no historic district that includes State Street that might offer some protection against development for the properties in the 100 block of State Street.

I think that one of the things driving this speculation is that this area of State Street is included in a design zone that would allow buildings up to six stories tall. Thus, if a developer can put up a six story condo or apartment building, then they can justify their initial investment.

The assessments for properties in Madison are supposed to be based on the highest and best use for the land plus the depreciated value of any buildings. Thus, this land speculation should lead to higher assessments for surrounding properties if the highest and best use is a six story building. Obviously, this can also increase the property taxes and rents to businesses in the area.

I favor historic preservation and maintaining the current scale of buildings on State Street because I think that it creates an enjoyable walkable environment. What can be done to prevent the destruction of the 100 block of State Street? Setting up a historic district would offer the buidings some protection and still give the owners flexibilty. Lower the maximum possible heights for buildings in this area would also make it less feasible to pay high land costs, because developers couldn't make up for the land costs by building a tall building.
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Re: No more pies, popcorn or porn?

Postby Ducatista » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:51 am

bassbari wrote:Have the critics from across the street won? I, for one, don't like the view, but I would rather see it fixed not flattened into an open space. There was talk one time of a wintergarden. I could live with that. But it looks like those great old buildings are living on borrowed time, if Rifken has his way.

Rifkin was quoted in the article saying: "The only thing I'd do is possibly remodel the apartments. We're doing some exterior maintenance right now that's being required by the city," Rifken said. "We're just holding it as an investment." Here's hoping he's talking long-term, long enough for Overture to settle in and become part of the landscape rather than the Shiny New Thing it is now.

The people bitching about the view should attend their concerts and galleries at Epcot if that's the experience they're after. It's downtown, idiots, downtowns have backs of buildings. How cool to be able to view them above street level through acres of that non-green glass, like some lifesize urban diorama.

In the poll I voted for powder and paint, assuming you mean maintenance and a fix-up here and there. "Leave it alone" doesn't work with buildings. They decay. The "don't touch 'em!" approach is the best way to ensure their demise.
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Postby snoqueen » Sat Dec 11, 2004 2:10 pm

I'm surprised, but I'm sort of torn on this one so here's a schizoid proposal.

First examine what's present. I like the front of Langhammer's little building (the one with the art nouveau tilework). The sandstone Caputo buildings at the tip of the block are historical enough to merit preservation, if only to save a view. I dunno about the big 3-story restaurant in the middle -- it's a clumsy space (built to be a furniture store years ago, I think). Though the front suits the rest of the block the remainder is hard to utilize profitably. I can't say the popcorn building does anything for me, but under all that paint and remodeling it might have merit. I can't tell. There's a very old storefront near the porn shop that looks like something out of the Old West, but the porn shop looks like a shed built between other buildings as an afterthought. Most of the shops on the Mifflin side of the block don't look like much today.

Anyway -- it's reasonable to have mixed feelings about this mixed old block. To keep the historic Bascom-Capitol view open nobody should build a "tower," or so one hopes. One of our main interests must be preserving views of the Capitol from as many angles as possible, especially following the discouraging new court/jail facility on S. Hamilton. You'd think we'd have learned after Klauser Haus on Wilson St, but nope.

OK, to another point: If you look at the Fairchild St. facade of Overture, you can see Pelli left unspoken the hope that someday people could view that side as a whole, at some distance. It's symmetrical, nicely proportioned, and more than just doors in a glass wall. From within, it has a superb view of the capitol dome particularly by night.

After spending what was spent on Overture the city has some responsibility to enhance, not obscure, the views (from inside and out) the architect gave us. A tall building in the 100 block of State will kill the capitol view, and the exterior deserves a good public vantage point, not just a private one from a few apartments across Fairchild.

Compromise proposal: What if the city bought up the Fairchild side, or the Fairchild/Mifflin corner, of the 100 block and made about half that triangular block into an open "overture" park? The remainder would be preserved and restored for now, and a permanent height limitation no more than 2-3 stories established. I don't know where the dividing line (possibly nicely crooked) between buildings and park would be, and new fronts would be needed for the buildings that ended up facing Overture across the park. Maybe the big restaurant space would be sliced in half to do this, but I'm not proposing a "facadomy" solution for the State side (thanks to G for that term).

With the right tenants on its highly desirable frontage, the new park would be busy and protected enough not to turn into another homeless station. Security is mostly an issue of good traffic patterns -- nobody has a sound reason to walk through Lisa Link Peace Park so it defaults to a space defended by those who hang out there and unhospitable to anybody else. If we had retail, residential, and the entertainment center fronting the new park it would be easier to keep orderly. People could circulate there in warm weather before and after a concert, new restaurants fronting the park could have outdoor seating, and people living upstairs in yet-to-be-built spaces would have location value equal to Capitol Square frontage. I am picturing at least some grass, plantings, shade trees, carts, and cafes.

Fairchild Street's present funky urban side is never going to survive the way it is because that streetside has become too valuable to ignore. I know some of us like it, but it's doomed just because Overture has made Fairchild functionally almost as valuable as State Street.
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Postby regnad_kcin » Sat Dec 11, 2004 2:34 pm

goodbye downtown.


hello pretentious boomer playground.
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Postby Ducatista » Sat Dec 11, 2004 2:52 pm

snoqueen wrote:Fairchild Street's present funky urban side is never going to survive the way it is because that streetside has become too valuable to ignore. I know some of us like it, but it's doomed just because Overture has made Fairchild functionally almost as valuable as State Street.

You're probably right, but a girl can dream. Look at it while it lasts, I guess.

regnad_kcin, your people-with-money-suck stance is just as pretentious as the unwashed-masses-suck attitude held by some boomers & yuppies & DINKs. But the hardcores on both sides make for entertaining reading, so I'm not complaining.
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Postby Thusnelda » Sat Dec 11, 2004 3:15 pm

I wouldn't mind if they turned Frida/Spices/Kosta's into something sort of like, coincidentally, the place Tutto Pasta Cucina Italiana (or whatever it's called) is now on King St. One of the things I liked the most about the old Civic Center was the ability to walk through it on your way somewhere. I've used it to wait for people, I've cut through as a shortcut (two minutes out of the cold is two minutes out of the cold!)... I like the "outside in" feel (okay, I know that's what malls go for :P) with the skylights, etc. that the one on King Street has, though I don't know how feasible that might be.

Something like that might be interesting, especially if there were spots where the food carts might be able to set up in the winter.
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Postby regnad_kcin » Sat Dec 11, 2004 5:07 pm

Ducatista wrote:
regnad_kcin, your people-with-money-suck stance is just as pretentious as the unwashed-masses-suck attitude held by some boomers & yuppies & DINKs. But the hardcores on both sides make for entertaining reading, so I'm not complaining.


It's depressing that levelling an entire city block suddenly isn't good enough-- we need to level the surrounding blocks so that we can look at the first one we destroyed.

Keep in mind that the architecture leading directly up to the square is some of the most interesting and colorful anywhere in this town, not to mention the Isthmus.

Wait 30 years. See how Overture and the Plaza has turned into an ugly, outdated eyesore that reminds us a little too much of the early 2000s. This town just doesn't fucking get it. Some buildings don't need to be saved, true-- but why do we have to eliminate retail space, neighborhood space, buildings people can live and work in-- and create quasi-public space that caters to the tastes of the priveleged? Living downtown really offers only two options: you're either a drunk, destructive student or a wealthy condo owner bemoaning the grime or panhandlers or upscale shopping options.

My opinion is that people who wish to live in Madison-- the city part, I mean-- and fall between those two age groups-- are losing ground. And we're all losing what made downtown interesting in the first place.

I'd rather have a real "city landscape"-- you know-- buidlings and such-- than a big ugly hunk of glass that $200 million demands we look at. Larger cities have plenty of these too, of course. They, however have large areas and more old architecture to work with. We're small and cramped on the lakes. We could work to preserve the appeal and history of old buildings and the classic "downtown" experience, but instead we're paving it over and dressing it like an upscale Vegas hooker.


INSERT GIANT COLLECTIVE SIGH
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Postby fromwi » Sat Dec 11, 2004 6:45 pm

In about a month I will be returning to Madison after 4 years in Phoenix and I am somewhat apprehensive about seeing the State St. development. When I saw the Overture it was just a big pit, so it will be interesting to see the (more or less) final result. I'm not sure what I think about changing more buildings...I agree somewhat with evaluating what's there and saving things that are worth saving but replacing stuff that's ugly. However, I'm not sure it's so easy to do that...sometimes when you give one developer permission to start tearing stuff down it seems like it's harder to justify not tearing down the building next door, and pretty soon you've got a bunch of new condos with Starbucks. The good thing about Madison, as opposed to Phoenix, is that the public actually seems to take some notice and consideration of these changes. Or at least a vocal minority does.
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Postby snoqueen » Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:34 pm

regnad_kcin wrote:
It's depressing that levelling an entire city block suddenly isn't good enough-- we need to level the surrounding blocks so that we can look at the first one we destroyed.

Keep in mind that the architecture leading directly up to the square is some of the most interesting and colorful anywhere in this town, not to mention the Isthmus.


I don't 100% disagree with you. I tried to be clear I don't want to lose the small scale and nice old buildings that make State Street what it is. I wish the Overture Center wasn't there at all, frankly. It's going to hurt a lot of small arts groups and it exists to serve a demographic I and many others are not part of. But it's there, it's not horrible for what it is, and we have to find some way to help it relate to its environment without destroying that environment in the process.

Wait 30 years. See how Overture and the Plaza has turned into an ugly, outdated eyesore that reminds us a little too much of the early 2000s.


Your time line is surely accurate as far as it goes. Thirty years after it's built, just about NOTHING looks good. Fifty years after, we start seeing what stands the test of time and what doesn't. At 30, a lot of east campus is flunking and it's hard to imagine we'll miss the Peterson Building in 2020, but stranger things have happened.

Buildings with deco ornamentation, put up in maybe 1915, looked grimy and old in the 50s. Now they're prized. The Anchor Bank on Midvale, very 60s, is just starting to be appreciated after years of being crowded between uglier newer construction. It's an airy, nifty little Flintstones space, if you never looked at it before.

I can't tell you how Overture will hold up. Nobody can. We've got to put up with it and let time do its work. Pretending it isn't there won't help any.

It's worth noting the previous re-do of that theater area took place in the 70s and didn't make it. 30 years later, nobody liked it well enough to keep it from demolition to be replaced by Overture. I can't say if it would have looked better in 2020, but since it was already a remodel I doubt it would have. I wonder if the city even finished paying off the bonds before it was torn down.

...why do we have to eliminate retail space, neighborhood space, buildings people can live and work in-- and create quasi-public space that caters to the tastes of the priveleged? Living downtown really offers only two options: you're either a drunk, destructive student or a wealthy condo owner bemoaning the grime or panhandlers or upscale shopping options.


No disagreement. We've been pleading on this forum for months that we want more affordable housing downtown, we don't want the entire campus area to lose its houses-and-porches blocks and be all fancy condos, and that high rents are hurting small retail around State.

That said, I'm not sure a park with cafes across from Overture necessarily excludes people of average or small means. They can't get tickets to some full-dress opera, but they might go see a movie and eat at Himal Chuli and have more fun anyway.

I'd rather have a real "city landscape"-- you know-- buidlings and such-- than a big ugly hunk of glass that $200 million demands we look at. Larger cities have plenty of these too, of course. They, however have large areas and more old architecture to work with. We're small and cramped on the lakes. We could work to preserve the appeal and history of old buildings and the classic "downtown" experience, but instead we're paving it over and dressing it like an upscale Vegas hooker.


I think those with any sensitivity to the historical context of downtown are trying, maybe even groping, for the fine line between a downtown museum of turn-of-the-last-century urban architecture and a generic rebuilt city with the architectural uniqueness of the West Beltline. Economic realities aren't making it any easier as wpatterson has made clear in this thread.

Madison's got a really limited amount of good older downtown architecture compared with some cities. We've destroyed a lot of it -- the Square is proof of that. If you can find a way to keep the whole 100 block of State intact and prevent somebody from putting up a tower that blocks the Capitol, I'll be with you all the way. I think the question isn't what to do with the 100 block of State. It needs to stay pretty much as it is in height and some nice older buildings deserve to be saved. The question, I think, should be what to do with the 100 block of N. Fairchild. Do you think we could change some or all of that without wrecking State?

Doing nothing at all is a recipe for allowing big landlords to let their properties rot (and I'm not comfortable at all with what Rifken says he means to do with his holdings on State). Once the buildings are sufficiently decayed and disgusting everyone's relieved when the guy finally does us all a favor and says he'd like to tear them down. I'm not accusing Rifken of this because it hasn't happened yet, but if that's the path he wants to take, his first step is conveniently in place. Jerome Mullins did the same thing for years downtown, and Minton is trying to do it now in Jennifer-Spaight. The city doesn't have the legal leverage at this time to block these guys. For that reason I think the city would do well to pre-empt any future deliberate decay of the 100 block of State by doing something creative now.
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